What Land Rover calls breadth of ability is the Freelander’s trump card. Although its off-road ability is the only objective area in which it is truly class leading, the Land Rover is at least competitive in most other areas, including its on-road manners.
For that reason, many buyers will still opt for the four-wheel drive models, and there's little doubt that the Freelander makes most sense in this guise, delivering a more cogent reason to buy it than many of its rivals.
The two-wheel drive Freelander eD4 looks, in isolation, to be a tempting combination of affordable running costs in a premium SUV body. And in many ways it is. If you want a two-wheel-drive soft-roader, this is one of the better options - particularly if you want the general driving sensations of a conventional 4x4. It also has an excellent ride, decent engine and desirable image. But it falls short of the class best in some key areas, and it does little that non-premium brands don’t do equally well for less, or that the BMW X3 doesn't simply do better.
There's little doubt, either, that the Freelander is feeling its age. Style-wise, it has seen better days, while ergonomics and quality are a let down when compared with rivals. And while interior space will be enough for some, it’s nowhere near as spacious as other premium SUVs. However, that square shape and 'Comand'‚ driving position pay dividends when driving the car - it’s an easy car to place on the road.
There’s no doubting that the Freelander is a pleasant and useful car. Perhaps with more persuasive running costs, the verdict would be different, but for a relatively small premium and figures only slightly less appealing, our money would go on a VW Tiguan or BMW X3.